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Tension as police arrests vendors, readers in Aba

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There is tension in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia, following arrest and detention of newspaper vendors and their patrons by police officers from the Aba Area Command.

According to some eyewitnesses, residents and traders at Ama-Ogbonna Junction on Sunday, scampered for safety, as police officers shot sporadically, while trying to arrest a newspaper vendor.

Sources said that police claimed that the vendors were distributing both national and regional newspapers, thereby encouraging people to obey the May 31, 2021, sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Dr Elendu Ukoh, one of the eyewitnesses, appealed to the Abia state government and South East leaders to call the Abia state police command to order, so as not to create crisis in the city.

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“The kind of people we put into police these days makes me wonder if we really want anything good out of this country called Nigeria. 

“How can someone be chasing newspaper vendors around in Aba, in this modern world.

“If you stop people from reading hard copies of newspapers, will you also stop them from reading the same stories on social media of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, among others.

What manner of primitivity is this? 

“They caused panic on Sunday by their shooting and noisemaking. The whole neighbourhood thought that they were chasing kidnappers. 

“It was later that we discovered that police came to arrest a vendor and readers, who gathered in his newspaper stand. 

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“How can police be fighting newspaper vendors? What manner of problem can paper cause that social media cannot cause 20 times over? 

Another resident, Michael Anorue said that almost all the newspaper stands he went to on Tuesday in Aba were empty until he got to Park Road area to see one and wondered why police in Aba was causing panic.

“We learnt they were saying on Saturday and Sunday that the newspapers had stories on the sit-at-home order in honour of Biafran heroes and my question is what is wrong about it? 

“The earlier political leaders in South East, remind these reckless police officers that Biafra is bigger than IPOB, the better for them. Does proscription of IPOB mean that Biafra has been proscribed too? 

“We’re all Biafrans! On the 30th of May, the World Igbo Congress (WIC) held a zoom conversation, talking about Biafran fallen heroes. Why can’t police go to YouTube, Zoom and other social media that aired it? 

“All they do is to come to streets and start looking for unnecessary troubles. I wish the leaders in Igboland will warn those reckless police officers not to allow what’s happening in Imo state to enter Aba, because it will be worse for everybody.”

Emeka Ugoala, expressed worry at the manner police officers see newspaper vendors and information seekers who gather to read newspapers, as their targets for arrest and extortion.

“Surprisingly to all of us, Aba the centre of every trouble in South East, has been peaceful. People are enjoying peace, to the shock of everybody. It’s like these police officers don’t like peace. 

“It’s like they enjoy and make money during crisis period. If not, why will they be chasing vendors and readers of newspapers when same stories are all over the internet? 

“All they want to do is to invite their families to come and bail them with money. 

“The DPO at Azuka (Ogbor-Hill) police station and SWAT Commander in Aba are provoking people on daily basis. 

“The situation in Nigeria demands that police should be more friendly with people, but police are making more enemies for the people.”

When contacted, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, Abia state police public relations officer (PPRO) denied that the police arrested newspaper vendors in Aba.

Yolamchi Ukaga, Aba

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